I was fortunate to be with Jean-Michel a lot when he painted. We remained good friends after our band Gray broke up, and he rose to international fame. He rented a loft on 101 Crosby Street in Soho. Along with his painting assistant, Steven Torton, his painting assistant, and his girlfriend, Suzanne Mallouk, I watched as this incredible "Radiant Child" took the bull by the horns. Steve would stretch about ten canvasses, about five feet square, all in his own inventive primitive style with the excess wood frame going beyond the corners. He would hang them unpainted on a long wall in the studio. Jean-Michel would go to work on all ten paintings simultaneously.
I would sit there and watch these canvasses being transformed every day. What was so amazing, and remains so to this day, is how he would initially create a series of great paintings by completely filling the available space on each canvas. Then, he would systematically start blocking out big areas on each canvas with beautifully contrasting colors. Starting anew, with just a corner of the old painting exposed, he would begin again with linear figures and cryptic linguistically latent text areas, perhaps later to be painted over again. He worked so fast, almost manic at times. The paintings flowed right out of his hand automatically. It was a spiritual experience to watch him paint. He seemed possessed.